The Olympus E-1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Cuckoo” 2014. Olympus E-1, Zuiko Digital 25mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Sorry for the funky treatment…one really did fly over the cuckoo’s nest 🙂

The Olympus E-1 is a digital slr that was introduced by Olympus Corporation in 2003.

It was their first digital interchangeable lens slr and an attempt to tap into the prestigious pro digital market that was dominated by giants Canon and Nikon.

The E-1 was also the first dslr to sport the new “Four Thirds” or 4/3’s sensor that was heavily promoted at that time by Olympus and Panasonic.

If you want to get into all the technical aspects for the 4/3’s sensor, just go to the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Thirds_system

Basically, 4/3’s is a sensor smaller than full-frame or APS-C, but still much larger than any point and shoot camera in 2003. The sensor has a 2X factor, meaning for example, a 50mm lens will translate to a 100mm lens on the E-1 and other 4/3’s cameras. Olympus definitely went against the stream on this one, as they did many times in the past. I’ve always been an Olympus fan, so this is one for the “little guys” 🙂

TheFlyPBaseSC

“The Fly” 2005. Olympus E-1, Zuiko 90mm f/2 macro.

The E-1 used a 5mp Kodak sensor, back in the days when Kodak made some amazing sensors. In fact, one of the main reasons for the E-1’s cult-like following is due to what Olympus enthusiasts like to call “those Oly colors” and of course, a large part of that is due to the Kodak CCD in the camera. The mount was also highly adaptable to use with “alternative” lenses and I greatly enjoyed using the camera with various Leica, OM, and Contax lenses.

E1ZC

“Evergreen” 2009. Olympus E-1, Leica 90mm f/2 Summicron-R. My little girl used to pick flowers for me. How I miss those days 🙂

The E-1 had superb build quality utilizing a magnesium-alloy, “splash-proof” body. I found the ergonomics to be great with the controls nicely laid out. The AF was sure and speedy in daylight, but struggled a bit in low light conditions. The ISO range was from 100-800 with ISO 1600 and 3200 available in the settings as “ISO BOOST.” I tended to stay within the 100-800 range as I found the “boosted” settings too noisy for me.

OlyE1FlowerC

“Sprouts Of Life” 2005. Olympus E-1, Zuiko 90mm f/2 macro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Fields Of Gold” 2007. Olympus E-1, Panasonic 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 Vario-Elmarit, ISO 800. Note the “noise” beginning to show. I don’t find it objectionable, but some might.

The E-1 also had one of the most quiet and smooth shutters I’ve ever used in a camera, and one of the most effective dust reduction systems. I’ve never seen a speck of dust in my E-1 images and I’ve used these cameras a lot over the past ten years.

If you’re looking for one of these, prices are trending at $65-200, with the average around $100 or less for the body alone which I feel is a killer deal for a fantastic camera.

Masterkiller1Cam

“The Kill Master” 2005. Olympus E-1. For less than $100, the E-1 is a “killer” deal for a Camera Legend.

Around 2004, I was in the (sadly) now defunct J&R electronics store in lower Manhattan. There were a lot of beautiful prints hung up on the wall of their photography department. Still a firm believer in film at the time, I was marveling at the prints and saying to myself…wow, look at what people are giving up by not shooting film! Guess what? All those shots I admired were done with an Olympus E-1 🙂

It’s hard to believe that the Olympus E-1 was introduced almost twelve years ago. It still remains a favorite among Olympus fans for its great color, superb build, and reliability. Although 4/3’s is now a dead system, it doesn’t mean you can’t use those cameras and lenses to take great shots.

The Olympus E-1 was the first of its kind and it has left a legacy that continues today with its successful Micro 4/3’s offsprings, which became the true fruition of what 4/3’s was supposed to be. The Olympus E-1 is a classic and will go down in history as a digital Camera Legend.

Pros: Superb build quality, splash-proof; Colors; Good AF in good light; Cheap in today’s world, a bargain!

Cons: “Only” five megapixels; Slow start-up; Slow write times to CF card; Digital grain begins to get objectionably “noisy” at ISO 800 and up; Part of the now dead 4/3’s system.

Important Note: While they share the same sensor size, please remember that 4/3’s and Micro 4/3’s are not compatible. For example, if you have a mirrorless OM-D EM-1 or EM-5, or a Panasonic Micro 4/3’s camera, you CANNOT use your Micro 4/3’s lenses on a 4/3’s body like the E-1. You CAN however use the 4/3’s lenses on Micro 4/3’s with the right adapter. Thanks for stopping by!

The Panasonic DMC-LC1/Leica Digilux 2

“Toe Curling Fun” 🙂 Panasonic DMC-LC1, 2009. For a larger and better view, please click on the photo.

The Panasonic DMC-LC1, aka, the Leica Digilux 2 was a 5mp point and shoot camera introduced in 2004 and featured a 28-90mm f/2-2.4 Leica Vario-Summicron lens.

I have fond memories of this camera. I remember lusting after it and getting one in 2005. I’ve never had more fun with a digital point and shoot than I did with this camera!

Now, I also had a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 before this and was not impressed with the “Leica” lens on it. It was sharp, but lacked any character.

The LC1 was different. The lens on this camera was phenomenally sharp. And it did have character. It had a Leica signature for sure.




Now being a small sensored point and shoot you’re not going to get any crazy bokeh with it. However, you CAN get some decent bokeh with the right technique/situation, but you also get resolution that looks better than you’d ever expect from five megapixels.

P1010149JDC

“JD Omniac” 2006. Panasonic DMC-LC1. As mentioned in the article, you CAN muster out some bokeh from the Panasonic LC1 if you shoot wide open and get in close. Please click on the photo for a larger and better view.

The build is also very good and it almost reminds me of the Fuji X-Pro 1 with a big lens on it. I absolutely loved this camera for street shots.

“Fine Arts, Ten Bucks” 2005, NYC. Panasonic DMC-LC1. He had some good stuff for ten bucks! I asked the man what his name was, he said “Call me Papi”…I said “Ok Papi” 🙂

I am sure Panasonic built everything on this camera, including the lens, though it really seems like a Leica designed lens rather than just a Leica “badge” as on other Lumix cameras.

You can also get this camera under the Leica name as the Leica Digilux 2. The Digilux 2 comes in a silver/chrome finish. I much prefer the black body of the Panasonic version, it works much better for unobtrusive street work. The Leica is also more expensive, as expected. Ignore the “red dot” and get the Panasonic! Trust me on this one 🙂

If buying one of these, be forewarned that many have had sensor failures, and you always have to be careful when buying older digital cameras, especially expensive ones.

That said, the Panasonic DMC-LC1/Leica Digilux 2 are cult classics and fantastic cameras that prove megapixels aren’t everything.

“Doc Spock” 2007. Panasonic DMC-LC1. Please click on the photo and check out the man’s face to see the outstanding resolution from this 5mp camera. You may have to double click it to see it properly.

Note 11/10/14: I have found the hard drive and some “lost photos” from the DMC-LC1 and have updated the post. The post is now current.

Note 11/4/14: I will be updating this post with more images from the LC1, but first I have to find the old hard drive which contains my images from this camera! It’s been a while since I’ve seen that old drive 🙂

If you’re on Instagram say Hi! http://www.instagram.com/camera_legend

The Most Important Camera Of The Past Ten Years

Please forgive the funky colors. It was intentionally done. This image was first posted on Instagram and I used one of their filters to put some "funk" to the image.

The Most Important Camera of the past ten years…The Canon EOS 5D Classic. Please forgive me for the funky colors, this was originally posted on Instagram using one of their popular filters.

For my first post here, I’d like to pay tribute to perhaps the most important and influential camera of the past ten years. And in my opinion, that camera would be…

The Canon EOS 5D, otherwise known today as the “5D Classic.”

I’m sure there are many people who would disagree with me, we all have our opinions. I will try to explain my reasoning for choosing the 5D Classic as the most important camera of the past ten years.

Three things. First, it was a “full-frame” DSLR. In 2005, there weren’t many of them and the ones that were there were ridiculously expensive. The top EOS 1Ds ran about $8000.

Please click on the image for a larger view.

“Birth” 2007. Canon EOS 5D Classic, EF 50mm f/1.8, ISO 500

The 5D was introduced at $3299. So with the 5D came an “enthusiast affordable” price. That’s the second reason. Before the 5D, it was like the “haves” and “have nots” as far as owning a full-frame DSLR.

If you could afford one, you were in the “elite” category. For everyone else, you had to use an APS-C, “DX” or other smaller sensors.

The 5D Classic changed this with its price point. Even though it certainly wasn’t cheap, $3299 is WAY better than $8000 if you want to have something left in the bank 🙂

LinHPba1

“Lin’s Head” 2005. Canon EOS 5D, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR, ISO 100

And last reason, for its time, the 5D had amazing high iso performance. Even though other cameras beat it on high iso today, in 2005 there was no competition.

MS8C

Jazz legend Mike Stern at the 55 Bar in NYC, 2006. Canon EOS 5D, ISO 3200.

All these things that the 5D Classic brought to market are still being worked on today by nearly all camera manufacturers. Even though micro 4/3’s will never be full-frame, their manufacturers continually work on better high iso capabilities, stronger camera bodies, and “enthusiast affordable” price for their pro and enthusiast models. This could arguably be traced back to the performance bar set by the 5D Classic.

Full-frame…High ISO performance…Price.

“The Darkness Comes” 2010. Canon EOS 5D Classic, Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8, ISO 200

The 5D led the way to other awesome cameras that came after it…The Nikon D3/D3X/D700/D600/D4/DF, the Sony A900/A850/A99, the Canon 5D Mark II/5D Mark III/6D.

Yosh

“The Black Rain Killer” 2008. Canon EOS 5D, Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 Sonnar.

Even today’s mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7/A7R/A7S all can be traced to the original 5D as their inspiration.

I’ve had mine since 2005. Thousands of shots. Never needed repair. Only once did the mirror fall out and I fixed it myself. Other than that, knock on wood, she still keeps ticking 🙂

“That Smile” 2008. Canon EOS 5D, Leica 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, ISO 800

Even today, I would say this camera could be used for almost any paying gig and still deliver the goods.

Is the 5D perfect? No. No camera is. No, it can’t do ISO 100,00+++, no it’s not a 10 frame-per-second monster, no it doesn’t have the fastest AF in the world. But YES, it delivers on image quality. At low iso’s, it still delivers files that look as good as almost anything out there today. At high iso’s, it can still get the shots albeit a little “gritty” by today’s standards, but I’m a fan of gritty 🙂

In hindsight, it’s easy to criticize the 5D for what it lacks. But to appreciate it, you have to “transport” yourself back to 2005. At that time, there was no full-frame DSLR cheaper, and no camera better for low light, high iso shots.

From 2007 “Happy Thanksgiving…Maybe Not?” 🙂 Canon EOS 5D, EF 50mm f/1.8, ISO 500

The Canon EOS 5D Classic is a digital pioneer and a true digital camera legend.

http://www.instagram.com/camera_legend